September is a wonderful time to enjoy the high altitude clarity of Old Castile, savouring the wonderful reds of Ribera del Duero, the vibrant whites of Rueda, via some magnificent castles, mountains and squares. Regional gastronomic specialities like Segovia’s suckling pig match the heavier reds of the region while Rioja and Navarra mark the transition to the north in style of wines and dishes, through patatas con chorizo, local peppers and tomatoes accompanied by more delicate reds and aged whites.
The Basque coast offers a stark and very visually striking contrast, txakoli white wine with local tuna and anchovies introducing us to the distinct gourmet feel of green Spain by the Cantabrian sea. The world’s best ham is never far away and the mixture of ancient and modern architecture, winemaking and culture makes for a heady mix.
- Insider’s tapas tour of Madrid
- Suckling pig lunch in Segovia
- Visit to the Alcazar in Segovia, Walt Disney’s inspiration
- Dinner at one of the world’s top 5 wine cellars
- Walk the San Fermines bull run in Pamplona
- Gourmet pintxos tour in San Sebastian
- Michelin star dinner in Rioja
- Long lunches in several world class wineries
José Pariente, Lopez de Heredia, Roda, Luis Cañas, Comenge, Condado de Haza, Cuzcurrita, Paco Garcia, Talai Berri
Start in Madrid.
Day 1. We meet Palacio de Tepa Hotel, set in in the Las Letras district in central Madrid. Tapas are an essential part of life in the Spanish capital and we take you to a series of traditional and modern style tapas bars to show you the variety of tastes and overall fun that the locals enjoy.
Day 2. Head north to Segovia where we have a guided tour of the Alcazar, Segovia’s landmark fortress and stunning castle perched on the edge of a cliff. Suckling pig lunch at one of the city’s top restaurants Jose Maria, washed down by some of the owner’s top wines. After lunch visit to José Pariente, a small modern family winery in Rueda run by mother Victoria and daughter Martina. It's a chance to taste some excellent whites from the verdejo grape. Evening free Hotel Pesquera.
Day 3. We enjoy a tour and visit at Comenge (the producer of Biberius), a wonderful estate that is near the 8th century Curiel castle on the road to Pesquera village. This is modern style Ribera wine made in a delightful location. We get the chance to see the vineyards at harvest time and then enjoy a tasting of both the young and reserva wines of the bodega. It’s then time for a visit and extended lunch at Condado de Haza, one of Alejandro Fernandez’s 2 Ribera estates and if the king of tempranillo is in town, he will join us for lunch and wines from across his 4 estates. Evening free
Day 4. On the way to Rioja we’ll have a coffee stop outside of the historic Burgos Cathedral. Visit and lunch at the stunning Cuzcurrita winery in the western most region of Rioja Alta, whose castle dates from 1464. Afternoon visit to top Riojan producer Luis Cañas where we visit the vineyards and have a tasting before the short drive down the hill to our hotel. Light dinner at Viura Hotel.
Day 5. Visit toLopez de Heredia which is the most traditional of Riojan bodegas both in the style of its wines and the feel of the winery. A great introduction to Haro (capital of the Rioja wine region) and to Rioja’s past, this is like a winery from the Middle Ages and an unforgettable sensory experience. We then visit Roda, a modern Rioja icon that showcases the modern style of wine and winery that challenges the traditional styles and is a complete contrast to the temple to tradition next door. Lunch is at Ventamoncalvillo where Carlos and Ignacio Echapresto have created a little gastronomic haven in the hamlet (or is it a village) of Daroca. They serve produce direct from their own garden and we enjoy a drink on the terrace before we sit down to a tasting menu inside. Ignacio cooks and Carlos looks after the wine and delight in the fact that their village is the smallest in the world to offer Michelin star dining. The wine pairings are always imaginative and delicious. Evening free.
Day 6. Morning visit to Paco Garcia, a new family winery that is young, bold and innovative. They make a series of very appealing wines to attract both Riojan wine enthusiasts and convert a few sceptics. We head to Pamplona where we have the chance to walk part of the San Fermines bull run route before taking the chance to have a tapa or two and raise our glasses to Mr Hemingway. It’s then about an hour’s drive north to San Sebastian where we check in to the Astoria hotel, before an evening Basque tapas (pintxos) tour in the old town.
Day 7. Morning visit and tasting to Talai Berri, one of the top Txakoli producers in the region, where we enjoy a tapas lunch. Afternoon free. In the evening we travel to the beautiful location of the Igeldo hill overlooking San Sebastian to Rekondo, home to the world’s greatest selection of Spanish wine. Granted one of only 5 grand awards awarded by Wine Spectator to restaurant cellars in 2011, Rekondo houses over 100,000 bottles and is a fitting last stop on our trip. We enjoy a last night dinner that offers excellent but simple Basque cuisine.
Day 8. After breakfast, end of tour.